Strong guest communications are essential to a great guest experience, and the guest experience is the cornerstone of your review scores. So, if you’re asking yourself how you can increase your revenue with positive guest reviews, our answer is simple: get your guest communications right.
Easier said than done, right? Fortunately, we’re all about guest communication. Our mission is to make it as simple, efficient, and effective as possible, for both you and your holiday rental guests.
We’ve put together a guide to optimising your guest communications, so that you can enhance the guest experience and increase your positive guest reviews!
Guest experience starts with guest communication
The first step in understanding how to manage the guest experience is understanding how to communicate with guests. If you’re looking to improve your guest experience, the first thing you have to ask yourself is: what does guest experience mean to you?
For us, guest experience means the overall impression that your guest takes from their stay with you. This certainly starts with the amenities you can offer (nobody’s going to turn their nose up at a private pool!), but it extends much further.
Creating the best guest experience means treating each guest as an individual. You have to understand and account for:
- their likes and dislikes
- any special occasion they’re celebrating
- the types of guests you attract – families, couples, groups, solo travellers
- the reason they’ve chosen to stay at your property
How do you understand all of this? By communicating with them!
A strong guest communication plan will help you to tailor your guests’ experience with you, and will help them to feel informed and prepared for their stay. It can even include a request for reviews, to maximise the chances of a strong review score (we’ll get to that later)!
Strong guest communications = more efficient vacation rental businesses
As well as keeping your guests happy, a sleek guest communication plan will save you time.
As a vacation rental host or manager, you know how much time gets swallowed up responding to guest questions.
This is time that you could be spending on other aspects of your business (or on taking some downtime!). An effective guest communication flow will identify the information that guests ask for most often, and then serve it to them in the run up to their arrival at your holiday let property.
This way, guests are far more likely to absorb the crucial details, and far less likely to pepper you with repetitive questions. It’s worth investing an initial chunk of time in creating a guest communication plan, because you’ll save buckets of time in the months that follow.
WATCH: For more insights into how to communicate efficiently with your guests, watch our guest communication AMA.
Claim your Guest Communication Planner now
To help you nail your guest communications, we’ve created a communication planner that maps out every stage of the guest journey. All you have to do is follow along to ensure that guests have all the info they need.
Reduce the amount of time you spend answering repetitive questions, and pull in those 5-star guest reviews on Airbnb today! Plus, discover why a digital guidebook is integral to your guest communication flow.
What to communicate to your holiday rental guests
First of all, let’s get the basics down. What information do you need to communicate in order to create a 5-star guest experience?
We’ll split this into two main categories: practical information and personal recommendations.
Key practical information your vacation rental guests need to know
The property information is the crucial details that your guests need to be able to access and use your holiday rental. Tell your guests:
- what you provide – tea? coffee? towels?
- how to find your property from the airport/motorway/train station
- where to park
- your vacation rental check-in and check-out instructions
- how to access keys via your rental’s lockbox
- your vacation house rules
- how to operate appliances
There may also be specific travel details that you want to inform them about. For example, if visa requirements have recently changed. You could also tell them about:
- travel insurance
- vaccine requirements
- any ID they’ll need to bring
All of this is the really important stuff. They need to know this in order to safely arrive at and access your property. You don’t want their first impression of your short term rental to be struggling to find the keys because you forgot to send them the exact location of the lockbox.
Plus, even when you do send it, they’re likely to forget, or to lose the email, and still have to call you to ask for instructions. That’s why it’s important to hit them with this stuff early on, and then gently remind them again, and again. We’ll go into more detail about how often to communicate with vacation rental guests further down.
The personal recommendations that will create a 5-star guest experience
Now to take the guest experience “above and beyond” – this is where your local area recommendations come in. By offering guests your expert insights, you communicate that you really care about their stay. You demonstrate that a stay at your place is not just about being able to operate the dishwasher. Tell them about:
- the best local coffee shop for finally finishing that book
- the friendliest family-run restaurant
- your favourite underrated bar
- the all-night takeaway that caters to the night owls
- the peaceful spots to see local wildlife
- the quietest spots during peak season
Personalise the guest experience even further by showcasing any added extras that you offer (which could also generate you incremental income):
- grocery delivery for when they arrive at your holiday let property
- experiences that you can arrange for them, such as a trip to the spa
- support with local equipment hire – can you help them to source kayaks, golf clubs, paddleboards?
These details will push your guests’ experience to the next level, and prompt them to leave an enthusiastic review.
A digital guest welcome book is the perfect place to store and present this information. It’s easy to share with your guests, and makes every detail clear and accessible.
READ: Check out our comprehensive guide on what to include in your digital guidebook
When to communicate with your short term rental guests
Right, we’ve got the first bit covered! Now that you know what to include in your communications, let’s think about how often you should be communicating with your vacation rental guests. The short answer is: probably more often than you think.
Most of my experiences of staying somewhere is that the person I’m staying with doesn’t communicate: it’s once on booking, and then almost at the time that I’m about to show up. But there’s nothing in between. It’s that moment of tumbleweed, that deserted town. It’s such a shame – there’s so many opportunities to communicate.
- Andy McNulty, Touch Stay CEO
At Touch Stay, we call it “holiday brain” – as soon as guests leave for their holiday, their brain switches off. We all do it. We’re there to relax, not to think. This means that repetition is your friend. It’s not enough to explain where the lockbox is once, you need to do it multiple times before your guests arrive.
Repetition also tells your guests that you haven’t forgotten them. Dropping off the radar between booking and arrival can make guests feel abandoned. Regular communication keeps them in the loop and helps to get them excited for their holiday.
Here are a few key moments for you to get in touch:
- when guests book your holiday home
- shortly before arrival
- the day of arrival
- the day of departure
- shortly after departure
This is not an exhaustive list!
Pre-arrival communications with your short term rental guests
Pre-arrival communications should provide guests with the crucial practical info, such as arrival processes, directions, and WiFi codes. You can also use them to get guests excited about their stay. For example, you can encourage them to book your recommended restaurants and experiences in advance.
Short term rental software helps you to schedule these communications. For example, Touch Stay can send your digital guidebook to guests multiple times before arrival using scheduled emails and SMS messages – no integration to any other services required! Alternatively, you can insert your Touch Stay guidebook link into existing guest communications sent via your PMS. Either way, your guests have numerous opportunities to browse through and get excited.
Your communications may actually start before guests even book your holiday rental property. You need to respond to messages from potential guests who request to book, and you might even follow up to convert vacation rental guests who message but don’t book. Don’t underestimate the importance of these communications: the booking process sets the scene for all of your later interactions.
READ: For a more detailed walkthrough of when to start and stop guest communication, check out our guest communication playbook.
Communicating with guests during their stay
It’s important to keep in regular touch with your holiday let guests throughout their stay. Don’t pepper them with constant requests for status updates! But do let them know that you’re available if any problems do arise. A few key points of contact include:
- checking guests have accessed the property and settled in ok
- asking if there’s anything missing
- asking if there’s anything else they need to know
- reminding them of who to contact for help, or in the event of an emergency
Keeping in touch throughout their stay encourages your guests to contact you if they do have any problems. This gives you the chance to solve those problems before they leave, which can turn a potentially negative review into a glowing reflection on how helpful you were!
Pre-departure communications with your holiday let guests
Communications that come towards the end of the stay should aim to close the guest experience on a positive note. Tell them how much you enjoyed having them, ask them what went well, and what you could improve on for next time (it’s an easy prompt to suggest they book again).
This is also the perfect opportunity for you to get reviews from your vacation rental guests. Listing sites such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and Vrbo all reward short term rental properties which have high numbers of consistently positive reviews. Insert links to these sites into the departure section of your Touch Stay digital welcome book, so that guests know exactly where to go to leave a review.
Get the full story with our Guest Communication Planner
These are only a selection of the touch points that we’d recommend. Our Community Ambassador, Tyann, gets in touch with her guests fourteen times between booking and arrival! And guess how many 5-star reviews she gets? (Spoiler: it’s a lot).
To see our complete recommended communication flow, download your Guest Communication Planner now.
How to communicate with holiday rental guests
This is sort of the question we’ve been answering throughout this article. What and when to communicate with short term rental guests are a part of how to communicate with them. Here, we’re going to focus on the tone and the methods you use when communicating with holiday property guests.
Adopt a personal, professional tone
A tone that’s both personal and professional may feel like a paradox. Can you be both of those things at once? We say you can, and you have to be! Your guests want a unique experience – they’ve actively chosen to avoid the anonymity of hotels and indulge in the individuality of holiday rentals.
At the same time, they expect high standards of cleanliness, prompt responses, and a property that’s been designed with guests in mind. Everything about your holiday let business needs to combine personality with professionalism.
LISTEN: For more insight into the importance of finding this balance, listen to Episode 12 of The Guest Cast, where we discuss professional hosting with Jasper Ribbers.
So, the tone of your communications needs to be warm and friendly, with an injection of your personality. At the same time, it needs to set and respect professional boundaries. We’ve compiled some message templates to help you strike the right tone when sharing your guide.
READ: Andy’s thoughts on exactly how you can strike the right tone in his article on the art of effective guest communication.
Use a mix of different communication channels to contact your holiday home guests
How many communication channels should you be using? Well, some guests are happy to read through a lengthy email. Others will just about manage to skim a text. We all like to communicate in different ways, so to make sure that you’ve got something in there for everyone, your guest communication plan needs to use multiple methods.
What communication channels could you use?
- platform messaging services (Airbnb, Vrbo, etc.)
- scheduled messages via your PMS
- telephone calls
Each of these different communication channels has its own benefits, so how to choose between them? Well, we say don’t choose! Use them all and mix them up. A scheduled message from your PMS lets you efficiently communicate crucial info, whilst a quick phone call on arrival adds a personal touch.
The more methods you use, the more likely you are to hit every kind of guest with something that they want to read.
It’s also important to remember that your very first set of communications with a guest might be via your social media messaging. If guests find you on social media then they may message you on that platform, most likely via Facebook or Instagram. So keep an eye on those inboxes!
READ: How to juggle different communication methods, in the guest communication circus!
The essential guest communication tool
Luckily, there’s a whole range of vacation rental technology that can help you to stay on top of your communications. Your digital guidebook contains all the practical info and personal recommendations your guests could possibly need.
- Parking instructions? Check.
- House rules? Check.
- Best local spot to grab a flat white? Check.
Your Touch Stay digital welcome book can be shared with guests via a link that you attach to existing communications, or via scheduled emails/SMS. Just insert your content, schedule your messages, and watch Touch Stay do the work for you.
Deep links allow you to direct guests straight to the relevant information in a specific section – perfect when needing to add efficiencies to how you respond to guest questions. You can even present these links as QR codes and attach them to appliances, so that guests can instantly access the instructions they need.
To help you get started on the right track, get your copy of our Guest Communication Planner.